Women’s Strategic Defenses Against Same-Sex Aggression: Evidence From Sartorial Behavior

  • Jaimie Arona Krems (Contributor)
  • Stefanie B. Northover (Contributor)
  • Ashley M. Rankin (Contributor)



Women’s intrasexual competition has received significant attention only in the last decades, with even less work investigating women’s defenses against such aggression. Yet, we should expect that women can (a) grasp which perceptually-salient cues evoke same-sex aggression and (b) strategically damp the display of (some of) those cues when aggression risk is greatest, thereby avoiding the potentially high costs of victimization. Women selectively aggress against women displaying cues of sexual permissiveness (e.g., revealing dress) and/or desirability (e.g., physical attractiveness). We find that (a) women (and men) anticipate greater intrasexual aggression toward women dressed revealingly versus modestly, especially if targets are attractive. Employing behavioral and self-report measures, we also find (b) women create outfits baring less skin, select more modest clothing, and intend to dress less revealingly to encounter other women, flexibly damping permissiveness cues depending on individual features (physical attractiveness) and situational features (being a newcomer) that amplify aggression risk.
Date made availableAug 1 2020
Publisherfigshare SAGE Publications

Cite this